I am lucky enough to get to contribute to a blog at my church called Live Oak Roots. Below was a blog I wrote during our current series "Keeping it Real: A Journey Through the Book of Mark..."
In Mark 2:18-28 the Pharisees were critical of Jesus and his disciples for not appropriately observing Jewish law and custom. First of all they didn’t fast. Then one Sabbath day, Jesus healed someone, and his disciples picked grain (which was technically harvesting)…all seen as unlawful on the Sabbath.
Simply put, the Pharisees who clung to rules and regulations were appalled that “this Jesus” and his band of brothers didn’t. The Pharisees were so bound by the law that they couldn’t see, really see, Jesus…God incarnate…standing right in front of them.
I can look at the way the Pharisees treated Jesus and find it to be unbelievable and ridiculous. But there have been times in my walk with the Lord when I was all but a Pharisee myself, and because of this, I too missed Jesus right in front of me…
When I was a new Christian at age 16 I used to worry incessantly about being a good example. I was aware that those around me knew where I stood when it came to my faith, and that they were watching me as I lived out this faith. My worst fear was that I would do something ungodly and I would “shame the family” (of God, that is). I literally dissected everything I said and did, and the attitude with which I picked myself apart looked a lot like a Pharisee’s. This is because I placed more value on the appearance of things than the very condition of my heart.
Sadly I will admit that as a young believer I also found myself examining other Christian’s lifestyles, and nitpicking what they were and weren’t doing…almost like a self-appointed spiritual hall monitor. Maybe I didn’t verbalize my thoughts in a public venue, but even so, in my critical posture I looked a lot like a Pharisee. Distracted by a list of do’s and don’ts, AGAIN I missed Jesus.
Thankfully, my “Pharisee stage” was short lived, largely because I had mature and loving Christians in my life who helped me work through my hall monitor-ism. And now if I ever drift back in that direction (which I still do sometimes if I’m being honest) I can recognize it pretty easily and prayerfully let God reorient me to where I need to be.
When I consider a Pharisee-like attitude…whether it be in me or in the Pharisee’s themselves, I think the single most dangerous aspect of it, is it’s ability to take our eyes off of the Savior…to distract us from His presence and what He’s trying to do in my life or someone else’s…to inhibit us from recognizing Him when He is right there waiting to be known and adored.